Inside Out

Who am I is who I let people see.

Who knows me is my choice.

My reputations is caused by the things I chose to do.

How people think of me is because I chose not to change the way they perceive me.

I am who I am and you all will see who I want you to see.

There is this battle raging within where a part of me fights to keep all my feelings and emotions locked away where they cannot do me or anyone else any harm. There is also a part that makes me feel stronger and tougher so I have some courage to make it through the day. A part that most people will never see is the one that cries deep inside because of all the pain the rest of me creates. To add to all the chaos, there are constant arguments that no one else can hear from the parts of my soul that are trying to tear me apart.

As a child, when I had to get some kind of shot where the not so little needle that makes much more of a little prick or pinch, I used to try to focus on something else in the room and try not to think until it was over. In elementary school I learned that when it was timed to be “whooped” or punished I acted as tough as I could as the teacher escorted me out of the class room, she waited a little after the class could no longer see me so I could breath and prepare myself for the consequences of my actions. As brutal as some may make this practice, the teachers were really compassionate about it and it was for our own good, but I learned how to stand up for the things I did and accept what was coming to me.

Somewhere around that “whooping” period, I recall our little league team only being a few games from making it to the regionals. I played outfield with a short-handed small town team. I took a bad it in the eye during warm ups and I knew that if I couldn’t finish the game then our team would automatically surrender one out for each inning. The team depended on me and the pressure was strong so I had to play regardless if it hurt or that the swelling was taking place. To pour gas on the fire, later in the game I took another hit in the eye and used every bit of my inner self to fight back everything so we could win the game, which we did, I felt blind and looked like a raccoon.

I learned at an early age who to control my inner self; how to walk it off and get back on my feet. At times it has helped me in many different situations, it certainly keeps you from looking feeble and also from being a target. Now as I look back I can see how time has built up so many emotions deep within my storage banks and the part of me whose job is to keep all those feelings locked up is getting tired with age. The part of me who shows strength in times of weakness is becoming weak itself and that little part of me that no one sees has locked himself so deep inside no one will ever hear his cries.

There is a charade we play when we go out in public, a different one for every aspect of our social and professional life. When we are at work there is an expected presentation of ourselves to both those we work with and those whom we are working for. When we are out in the community the masquerade continues because society itself has expectations regarding our actions and appearance. Even in our close personal circles we play along just to keep from having to discuss it or to ensure that everyone else who depends on you thinks everything is fine.

They say it isn’t good to hold things in, but tell that to the keeper of my pain. These people who say express your feelings are of the same group that tell us to control ourselves. We were as strong as they taught us to be and now they want us to share. Not very likely, how am I supposed to carry on if I change how I walk. If you put a pin in a balloon with a small amount of air, it will just deflate with no excitement at all. If you wait until that balloon has filled up with as much air as it can hold, it will certainly explode.

If you tell someone with one problem to share and it will be alright or that it is ok to cry but actually make it OK to cry then each problem from there on will be manageable in a sense. If you tell someone to “stand strong”, “hold tight”, “walk it off”, or “be a man” and then when society catches up with the reality of what it has done and wants to listen the problems have all compiled to the point beyond therapy.

There is no one person to blame besides myself and society in general. Generation after generation has been taught the same theory of ‘its ok to cry, but don’t do it here’ and now being strong is gender neutral. Once upon a time it was the man who needed to “be strong” and don’t let anyone push you around. You being the man had to work hard and provide. You being the man was responsible for the wellbeing of your family and their family. But at least at one time being the strong man who never sheds a tear could go home to a caring wife who knows better and can console and provide comfort so that the strong man will be able to do it again.

The days have change where both genders are told to be strong but also to express their feelings. This confusion will eventually take a toll on our society and the balance will be lost. Maybe next time we will just stop trying to control the how people should feel and the way they express those feelings. Maybe society will fare better if it would leave individual people alone and let those people live up to their own expectations. Out of all the things society wants to control the one thing they keep missing is that every tangible thing is controlled by a person’s mind and that mind is influenced by its emotions.

You know who I am …

You know who I let you know …

if you listen long enough you will know more.